January 22nd, 2020

Times 27567 - TCC Heat 1 #3 - nothing to scare the mokes.

I found this third of the set just about the same in difficulty as the first two, with plenty of scope for biffing on the day I'd imagine, even if the parsing was a bit tricky at times. I see half the field completed it correctly.

I'm not sure I have quite explained 16d. I'll also pose you all a challenge for setting a second clue for the answer to 15a; this one is good but it can't be the easiest word to set for.

My LOI 4d raised an eyebrow, not expecting to see a Procter & Gamble brand name in a Times puzzle.
Across
1 Current parliament returns early work (5)
ILIAD -  I (current) then DAIL (parliament) reversed. My FOI.
4 Disastrously dropped litre drinks in school (9)
COLLAPSED - COED = school, insert L and LAPS.
9 Master divisor, ignoring two quarters (9)
DOMINATOR - divisor = DENOMINATOR, remove E and N two quarters.
10 Armstrong’s heard of what prayers do (5)
KNEEL - sounds like NEIL as in Neil Armstrong, astronaut.
11 Resorts employing treatment, having nothing for drug at intervals (13)
SPASMODICALLY - SPAS (resorts) then MEDICALLY (employing treatment) has its E (drug) replaced by an O (nothing).
14 Unpleasant, and very cold, outside King’s Head (4)
ICKY - ICY very cold, insert K King's head.
15 Republic disperses beatniks pursuing sawn-off gun (10)
UZBEKISTAN - UZ(I) = sawn-off gun, (BEATNIKS)*.
18 Give up introducing complex rating scale (10)
CENTIGRADE - CEDE = give up, insert (RATING)*. Old name for temperature scale Celsius.
19 Still, one that’s never been authenticated (4)
YETI - YET (still) I (one).
21 Cruisers might lie along this front, playing cards (9,4)
PROMENADE DECK - PROMENADE = front, as in a seaside resort; DECK = playing cards. Cruisers here means people on a cruise.
24 In which the beast of Siberia is caught? (5)
TAIGA - Sounds like TIGER, the beast found in the Siberian Taiga or snow forest. Wiki tells me the biome taiga is the largest in area, it covers 11.5% of the world's land surface.
25 Screen producer’s turkey chasing small donkey (5,4)
SMOKE BOMB - Amongst other things, a MOKE can mean a donkey; so we have S(mall) MOKE, BOMB = turkey.
27 Stars dealing with a disease hooked by drugs (5,4)
GREAT BEAR - Drugs = GEAR, insert RE (dealing with) A, TB (disease). No doubt biffed by most.
28 Toy with no head found in sack (5)
RIFLE - TRIFLE (toy) loses its head.
Down
1 Obscure country’s losing a contest finally in court (10)
INDISTINCT - INDIA'S loses its A > INDIS, T (contest finally) IN CT (court).
2 This author’s taking in singular theory (3)
ISM - I'M (this author) insert S for singular.
3 Current producer withdraws a good deal in style (6)
DYNAMO - MANY reversed inside DO.
4 In place of holiday, English cleaner in criminal court! (4,5)
COTE DAZUR - My LOI, as i stared at D*Z*R thinking can this be right? Then I remembered apostrophes are not enumerated, and pennies fell. E DAZ (washing powder) goes inside (COURT)*.
5 Some delightfully rich little poem (5)
LYRIC - barely hidden in DELIGHTFUL(LY RIC)H.
6 Take a look into a large juvenile compound (8)
ALKALOID - A LO (a look) goes inside A L(arge) KID (juvenile).
7 Three views about to be one (3,3,2,3)
SEE EYE TO EYE - SEE, EYE, EYE = three views, about TO.
8 Fool jolly officer (4)
DOLT - DO = jolly, party; LT = officer. I wanted to put DORM at first, but a dorm isn't an officer.
12 Like grass family doctor brought in, it’s negotiable (6,5)
ASKING PRICE - AS RICE = like grass, insert KIN and GP.
13 As was Molly Brown, tanning in bleak sun (10)
UNSINKABLE - (IN BLEAK SUN)*. Have we seen 'tanning' as an anagrind before? Mrs Margaret Brown a.k.a. Molly was an American socialite so known, she survived the sinking of the Titanic, and acted heroically, see her Wiki entry.
16 Try nut and bolt to secure area (9)
ENDEAVOUR - Well, DEVOUR can mean bolt, eat quickly, so insert A for area into that, leaves you with EN to mean nut. An en is a short space in typography, perhaps printer's slang for it is a nut?
17 Skirt round old temple displaying measure of power (8)
KILOWATT - KILT (skirt) goes around O, WAT as in Angor Wat.
20 Fighter once assembled eastern troops (6)
METEOR - MET (assembled) E (Eastern) OR (troops. The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter, I remember making my Airfix model.
22 Poles in Brussels start to examine result (5)
ENSUE - N S (poles) inside EU (Brussels), E (start to Examine).
23 Cut theatre for men only (4)
STAG - STAGE (theatre) gets cut.
26 Away side at Old Trafford (3)
OFF - Double def., Old Trafford having a cricket ground as well as Manchester United's stadium. As we know, even if cricket is a mystery to you, there are two sides to a cricket pitch, ON (leg) and OFF.